Cool coffee granitas

Second helpings of coffee granitas are usually required.

Eliza Osborne

Cool coffee granitas

As I write, it is about a thousand degrees. And said to be staying there as we slog through this existential climate change, which I believe used to be known as summer. I was going to write about new and exciting developments in the pizza world, but probably no one south of the Nordkapp is going to turn on an oven much before October if this keeps up. So pizza will have to wait for who knows when, and, instead, I’ll offer something that’s really cold, really easy, and really good. You’ll love it, I promise.

Hang on a minute, I have to go open the refrigerator door and lie down on the floor in front of it for a while first. Be right back . . .

Okay that’s better.

I first had this, coffee granita, in Sicily a few years ago. Granita is, basically, flavored ice chips, and there are many variations. In Sicily, where the temperatures in summer are so high that they can’t be measured by instruments invented by humans, this is often breakfast. Topped with some whipped cream, it can make what lies ahead as the sun ascends seem more bearable. I remember sitting in a plaza having some for the first time and thinking Wow!!! This stuff is Great!!! Or I would have thought that if it hadn’t been too hot for so many exclamation points. I wish I were there again now, though. It’s probably cooler.

Coffee Granita

Italy is a place where coffee plays a serious cultural role, so it’s possible that they start with freshly brewed espresso. We’re not doing that: substituting instant espresso will simplify the workload here and, time in the freezer aside, you can put this together very quickly and easily. The reward far outweighs the effort. Make sure you offer blessings to the ground walked on by whoever invented it.

Serves six or so, keeping in mind that second helpings are usually required and appreciated.

Fill a quart measure with boiling water.

Add eight heaping teaspoons of instant expresso, available in supermarkets - Medaglia d’Oro and Ferrara are two brands. I have both and usually use four teaspoons of each, but no matter. I use a measuring teaspoon and dip it into the jar. Heaping, as I said.

Add slightly more (a tablespoon more) than 3/4 c. of sugar. Stir to dissolve.

Add both the coffee and the sugar to the water. It defies reason, but putting them into your quart measure first results in a smaller amount of liquid than doing it the way I said. If you want to know why, you’ll have to call your high school chemistry teacher, I haven’t the faintest.

Let the mixture sit on the counter for a while, at least 20 minutes. Or longer. Or put it in the refrigerator for a bit. You can go lie down somewhere while you wait for it to cool down some.

When it has, add:

2 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp. Kahlua

If the mix is too hot the alcohol will evaporate, and I think the alcohol is what keeps the granita in a large grained, slushy state, even when frozen. I haven’t checked this out with my old chemistry teacher either, but that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

You can put this into the refrigerator for a few hours to cool it further, which will make freezing it quicker, or proceed immediately to freezing.

Pour the mixture into a flat stainless steel pan with high sides, a roasting pan, for example. Do not use a non-stick pan, it will be ruined. Clear a flat spot in your freezer and put in the pan. After an hour, and every half hour after that, scrape down the mixture with a large fork, putting the pan back into the freezer after each scrape. it will take a few hours to freeze it all, and it will look like large flakes. It stays in a servable state for a good while, so it can be made a day ahead. It’s still good after that, too, if there’s any left.

Watch out when you remove the pan for the first few scrapes, it’s easy to spill. I knew from the beginning that this would be a permanent part of my life, so I bought NordicWare covered metal pans from Amazon for this. Up to you, but, again, be careful of spills in the beginning.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream. The granita is sweet enough, so I use very little sugar in the cream. It’s a good idea to use chilled bowls for serving, it melts fast. Fabulous for dessert on a hot evening. If you decide to have this for breakfast, and why not, tell your mother I said it’s okay to have a little whipped cream at the beginning of the day. Life is better that way, sometimes.

Pamela Osborne lives in Salisbury.

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